Minihome opened in 2003. It was set up by Billie Chan and Maria Gandy, also directors of Yogahome, which is next door!
We decided to open a nursery as Billie was looking for a nursery for her own children, and realised that she couldn?t find the kind of nursery that she was looking for in Stoke Newington.
We bring to Minihome a warm, welcoming and inclusive ethos with a focus on individuality, a place that feels happy, informal and homely with an emphasis on imaginative play and creative expression. Billie has Early Years Professional status, and is the nursery manger. Maria is the financial director.
what we are like
Minihome is a nursery with an independent spirit and a creative, homemade vibe.
We are a warm, welcoming and inclusive nursery with a focus on individuality, a place that feels happy, informal and homely. This is somewhere that you and your child will be known well. From our first visit to you and your child at home, through to the visits by long left children and families to say “HI!” we aim to build close, caring relationships that support your child.
We focus on recruiting lovely, warm, smiling and caring staff who enjoy being with children and supporting parents. People who are dedicated to their work and keen to learn too. Parents tell us about their confidence in relationships with longstanding members of staff who have cared for their first, second and third children at minihome.
We expect children to flourish with a diversity of play, and social interaction, inside and outside. Each child is encouraged to think for themselves, to be creative, curious and friendly. We focus on kindness, love and fun in our learning. The EYFS underpins our curriculum, leaving great scope for elaboration to meet the needs and interests of each child and the inspirations of the adults and the world around us. Sessional teachers bring languages, music and song, yoga, ballet, street dance and drama. We use our garden daily for children to play outside. We go on outings each week, which children access in turn so that all get a chance to go out somewhere in the local area each month. This includes the local parks to use climbing frames and swings, see the animals and go paddling, Dalston market, the pet shop and the library. Our regular observation and assessment of each child’s development and learning supports our ability to meet their needs and maintain a dialogue with families in support of their home and nursery learning. We ensure that children can develop well according to their abilities and work with other agencies to achieve this.
We are keen to hear the thoughts, and about the feelings of, children and parents and to use these to inform our development. Parents say that we recognise when we have issues that need to be addressed and feel that they have a stake in the nursery. We have an informal atmosphere and parents say that they feel they can join in. Parent participation is encouraged, from updating us by email on your own assessments of your child’s learning and development, to sharing a family festival or a story time, or thinking about developments in our provision, through to Social nights for all with food, drink, and entertainment.
We like to keep parents informed with daily feedback, weekly newsletters, termly review meetings to discuss your child and termly meetings with managers to discuss broader nursery matters.
Fresh, healthy food is minihomemade on the premises daily and children learn to grow food from seed to eat. We have grown strawberries, lettuce, beans, salad onions and potatoes.
'Minihome's nurturing environment, knowledgeable and caring staff and diverse activities have given both our girls a fantastic start. They both talk of it with great affection.'
'Minihome is a warm, welcoming nursery with a focus on individuality.'
'Minihome is a wonderful, creative, nurturing environment for children of all pre-school ages. We have been part of their community for 6+ years and have seen three children thrive in the stimulating and imaginative environment they provide. It is where our children learned to walk, talk, feed themselves and express themselves in other ways - often through means and ideas that we would never have thought of, nor had the patience to try and put into practice. Thank you to Billie and team for all you have contributed to our family. '
'I am a parent of a kid with special needs. Billie, the manager, has been there with us all the way to look after our son with the support of the Hackney Learning Trust. She is keen on doing an extra effort for our son as he needs it. We are thankful to her and her staff because Minihome has been a really important part of our son’s development.'
Francisco De La Mora
'Minihome is a great nursery where my son has thrived. It's a warm, creative place.'
Jo Van Tijn
We would like to take this opportunity to thank you and the team at Minihome for doing such a fantastic job. We've been very happy with the nursery during the three years Cecilia has been with you. She has benefited from a succession of highly capable and caring key carers who have given her security and helped with her development, but most important of all have ensured she has been happy.
Thanks again Siena & Johnnie Pakington
'Our daughter joined Minihome when she was nine months old suffering from severe and multiple food allergies. Minihome worked with us and the allergy clinic and were very proactive whilst ensuring that our daughter was safe. At the same time she could sample as many foods as there were available to her and she was integrated into communal meals. Minihome food is nutritious and yummy and - due to the amazing Minihome staff - great for all little people that go there.'
Some feedback on the nursery as we are coming to the end of our time there...
[please click for more]
Nigel & Heather
1. Website and communication
The refreshed website with the policies and live information has been very useful when checking what sickness procedure or what was happening during the weather disruptions earlier in the year.
The regular newsletters by email on upcoming events, joiners and leavers and the updates on illnesses at the nursery have been brilliant. We have never felt out of touch or surprised about what was happening at nursery and it has increased our confidence.
We have great confidence in the staff and the management of the nursery because, in part, there is a great deal of openness and willingness to discuss and hear opinions. The open evening taking parents through the activities of the nursery is great and helps with allowing the children to express themselves when they get home.
3. The buildings and garden
A big factor when comparing nurseries as we look to find a new placement is the difference in the buildings. Minihome has quite large rooms with larger number of children in them compared to the nurseries available where we are going. These nurseries tend to be in converted houses and have smaller groups of children of the same age group in each room. Access to the garden and toilets in some of these nurseries needs the child to request access.
Minihome, like the two backup nurseries we have used (provided by bright horizons) has larger multipurpose areas with children dynamically grouped by activity and sometimes by age group. The larger number of kids of a wider age range combined with the spread of skills of the staff creates as greater range of opportunities for the children to observe, learn and interact. The freedom of the children to use the garden and the toilet area is also something not shared across nursery providers.
The toilets have been a big thing for Izzy, having the shared potty sessions and learning to toilet herself. The garden with the bamboo, areas to hide and the climbing frames have been perfect for Izzy developing confidence and independence.
4. The staff
We are always impressed by the concern of the staff for the welfare and development of the children. We are constantly learning from the experience of the staff and are lifted by the energy they show for their job. The professional nature of the development of the policies of the nursery, looking for best practice, training and the creation of a homely atmosphere is spot on.
From the first day we were shown round the nursery we have observed a level of respect for the children not shown in any other centre we have visited. On entering a room and leaving the room, you (Billie) introduced the group to the children and thanked them for letting us come in. Likewise you said cheerio when the group left. It just broke down that weird thing of visitors at the zoo as the group moved through the nursery, and it is something we have continued when visiting nurseries since.
The respect is balanced with the responsibility that the kids are encouraged to develop.
We would always hesitate to recommend anything to any parent about how to bring up children but one thing we would not hold back from is recommending Minihome for children and for parents.
Our son started at Minihome when he was 10mths old and he is now nearly 4yrs. We have always been delighted with the care and love he has received from all the staff as he has moved from the baby-room, toddler-room and downstairs to the 3+ room. They have fed him delicious and healthy food, potty trained him and helped teach him to be a very sociable little boy. Thanks to Billie, Antoinette and all the staff.
Minihome is a home away from home with its friendly caring staff and comforting atmosphere. As soon as I walked into Minihome I knew I could leave my child there and she would be safe and loved. My daughter loves going to nursery and is very happy there.